REVIEW: Los Coast’s “Samsara” is True Magic


Los Coast is one of those bands that that somehow manages to blend genres so effortlessly that when asked to describe the band, it’s nearly a headache inducing task to attempt. In the band’s bio they self describes themselves as punchy psychedelic-pop-soul. Yep. The description I seem to fall back upon is Houndmouth meets Fantastic Negrito. You’ll probably come up with your own appropriate description, and in that lies the true magic Los Coast have captured with their New West release, Samsara.

The band is the collaborative creation of music visionaries Trey Privott (vocals & guitar) and John Courtney (lead guitar, keys). Their collaboration and was built on a healthy foundation of creativity and inventiveness that blossomed in the live music capital of the world, Austin, TX. Privott is the nephew of accomplished guitarist and former Letterman “Late Night” band member Hiram Bullock. He  cites an exciting mix of jazz, soul, gospel, punk, folk and hip hop as influential. On the other hand, Courtney is a multi instrumentalist with a love of jazz, Jerry Garcia  and experimental rock. He honed his chops studying music theory, and in particular, texture, mood and composition, at Berklee College of Music.

Together, Privott and Courtney have won a dedicated following, no easy task in a town as rich in music as Austin; and been named one of Austins Best New Acts and Best Residencies by the Austin Chronicle.

Which brings us to their New West release, Samsara. Recorded at Austin’s Arlen Sudios, the album was produced, engineered and mixed by Jacob Sciba, and manages to capture a fair representation of the band’s live energy. Samsara was recorded with a revolving list of musicians for these sessions including current drummer Daniel Llanes. The band has since been rounded out with Megan Hartman on bass as well as Natalie Wright on keys. According to Courtney, Samsara was an evolving process that was reworked multiple times in order to get the results he and Privott sought. He cites the lengthy process of recording as an non-traditional way of seeking the perfection they were after, but believes it was time well spent. He isn’t wrong one bit.

Samsara opens with “Voila,” a short 25 second spoken  introduction that serves to set up the funky trio  of “Monsters,” “Simplify” and “Graves.” Make no mistake, this is as potent an opening trio of songs found on a debut as you’ll find. Thankfully, it doesn’t stop there. The album is track after track of  genre blending genius throughout. “(Everything But) The Kitchen Sink” centers on smart conscious hip-hop, “The Morning Weight” and “Testify”allow Privott to channel his inner Stax singer that captures the soulful, heartfelt feel of  Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and other giants. These songs are complex and infectious. They rely on clever lyrical twists and turns as much as they do Privott’s soulful vocals and the explosive grooves the band lays out. Perhaps Samsara’s greatest attribute is that it manages to challenge and reward the listener equally. That’s no easy task. As much as the opening trio of songs impressed, the closing trio is just as impressive, with the closing “Chesapeake” quickly become my latest song obsession in a lengthy list of song obsessions.

Los Coast has been venturing out on the road in anticiption of  Samsara’s upcoming release. They’ve picked up some choice opening gigs with the likes of Gary Clark Jr., St. Paul & Broken Bones and more. Samsara’s brillance cements their status as “the” up and coming band to keep an eye on. It’s an album that finds my appreciation for it deepening with each subsequent listen. Mark my words, Los Coast is a band that’s going to be garnering some serious well-deserved attention the remainder of the year, and going forward. Don’t miss the boat.

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